Monday, April 20, 2009

Michael Horton on the Sacraments

I'm reading through Michael Horton's People and Place and came across this interesting quote about the Sacraments:

"Alongside preaching the word that is delivered in baptism and the Supper creates the world of which it speaks. Preaching does not simply refer to an extra linguistic reality, but is indeed the linguistic means through which the Spirit brings it about. Even the sacraments, then, obtain their efficacy from the word that they ratify ... At the same time, they are also visual - indeed, tactile and edible, words. Since the word creates community beyond indvidual consumerism, it gurantees the efficacy of the sacraments not only as means of grace, but also as a means of grace-enabled communion with human strangers. God does what he says. Because his word is no mere sign, but powerful ("living and active"), in the hands of the Spirit the sacraments also truly communicate God's saving grace." (p. 106).

Thought provoking stuff!


Steve T. said...

I hope I'm not showing ignorance, although I probably am, but does not the Reformed tradition reject the very idea of Sacraments?

andrewbourne said...

This sounds like the traditional understanding of sacraments that God works via the performative language and that the Minister of the Sacrament is the image of Christ so that when for example the words of forgiveness you are actually forgiven or in the Eucharist you are at one with God

Andrew Cowan said...

Thus, preaching is a speech-act and the sacraments are body-language.

(Steve T., I think that Reformed folk do generally reject sacramentalism [Catholics views of the sacraments], but to my knowledge they do not eschew using the word "sacrament" to refer to baptism or the Lord's Supper.)

Ross said...

I think it is just gobbledygook, the verbal equivalent of the Emperor's new clothes.

Much prefer, 'this is my body', 'this is my blood'.

Rachel R. said...

Reformed believers reject sacerdotalism, but sacraments are very much a part of the Reformed tradition. See, for instance, the Westminster Confession of Faith.